Monday, September 28, 2009

Exciting News

While I am waiting for a few more pictures to come online from the cyclocross races this weekend, I figured I'd take this opportunity to devote a little post to let you all in on some exciting news in my world. As of last Wednesday evening, I officially became a new member of the Punk Rock Cycling women's team!!! This is a pretty big deal for me...these girls are great cyclists and their team is widely respected as one of the top women's teams in the area. I am still somewhat in shock that they asked ME to join their team, but I am totally excited about the opportunity to learn from and race with these girls. More on this to come, but don't I look good in the black, green and blue???


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

F-U-N

I am having an absolute BLAST right now. Cyclocross has begun...I'm back at CrossFit...my sister and her family have officially moved back home...life is good.

CYCLOCROSS
I'm happy to report the black eye has healed and I have not acquired any additional injuries from crashing my cross bike...so far. I have a few bruises from working on dismounting and re-mounting for obstacles and from shouldering the bike up some hills, but other than that no new injuries to report. We had our first Renegade cyclocross training ride Tuesday night. Some local bikers pick a city park each week, throw some flags down for a course and we all show up to ride and have some fun. Tuesday was the first ride at Union Park. They had a great course set up for us, with a couple sets of obstacles, a big hill run-up, some off-camber stuff, some tight turns, a tiny bit of pavement and some good ole flat grass. We rode a "practice lap" to get a little familiar with the course, then it was go time. 45 minutes as hard as you want, as many laps as you want. After the first lap I wasn't sure I was going to make it 45 minutes. It was TOUGH! But I held on, lap after lap...quads were burning, hips were screaming, sweat was dripping off my nose. I.LOVED.IT. Each lap I got a little more comfortable...the downhill seemed to get easier, I could go a little faster, let go of the brakes a little more. One of the riders snapped some pictures on the last loop, going down the hill...F-U-N!!!!

My friend Steve is taking me out to ride some single track tonight - I'm so excited! Then Sunday, I'm heading out on a long ride with Greyt. Renegade again on Tuesday. So much fun I can barely stand it!

CROSSFIT
Last November I started CrossFit as a way to work on strength training that wasn't boring or routine. For those of you who aren't familiar with CrossFit, you can check out the website at http://www.crossfit.com/. But basically it's a strength and conditioning program that includes plyometrics, olympic lifts, running ,rowing, gymanstics,etc. I was in CrossFit from November till April and I really loved it. Then...I broke my hand. I stayed out of CrossFit during the summer to let my hand completely heal and also to focus on just racing. Now that I'm done with my triathlon racing season, I wanted to go back and work on gaining back some of the strength I have lost. I went back last week, two days...and was so sore I could hardly walk. First day consisted of 50 power squat cleans (clean it from the floor into a squat, then stand it up) using just the 45# bar. I was supposed to do 75 cleans but my wrist wasn't allowing it. Then two days later I went back for workout #2 - 150 kettlebell swings for time (36# kettlebell). By Thursday, I was one hurting unit. My muscles clearly were not ready to quite jump in as fast as I did. WOW. It hurt, but I loved it. I had really missed doing those workouts.

I went back yesterday for my third class...and wouldn't you know it, the workout of the day was the same one I was doing when my accident happened in April - Helen. Yes, some of the workouts have names...and the ones named after chicks are complete bitches. "Helen" is 3 rounds for time of 400m run, 21 kettlebell swings (36#), and 12 pull-ups. I have to admit, I was pretty nervous going into it. I had to get my mind over the fact that the last time I was doing pull-ups, the bar broke and I was in surgery two days later. With some great support from my girl Kelli, and my buds Jon and Cliff (in the red)....it was HTFU time!!!


Yeah, it hurt...my grip in that right hand is not as strong as it used to be. And I only did about 5 or 6 as kipping pull-ups and had to do jumping pull-ups for the rest, but I'll take it! At least I finished Helen this time...and with no trip to the ER!!!
THEY ARE HOME!!
My sister and her family have officially moved back to Iowa. It's been a crazy month or so getting them all moved out here, them finding jobs, finding Gabe daycare, etc, but they are finally here. Last weekend they packed up their house in Chicagoland and moved it all home. I stayed behind and watched Gabe for the weekend....which I think at times was harder than the actual moving part! :D In an effort to still get some bike riding in while he was here, I borrowed a friend's bike trailer and decided I'd try it out with him. I thought he would enjoy it, but I just wasn't sure....
The faster I went, the louder he giggled. He absolutely LOVED it. I think this will have to be my next purchase so I can use it to pick him up from day care every now and again while it's still nice out. Not to mention the fact that it's a heck of a workout pulling him around in it!
I'll leave you with one last picture....doesn't he look like a happy boy?

Pool hair and cookie face

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Going Over To the Dark Side - Big Creek Road Race

Yes, boys and girls, I finally took the plunge and signed myself up for a bike race. Just a bike race. No swim before, no run after, just 34.5 miles of just the bike. It was hard. I was hitting speeds on my bike I never imagined I would hit. And my HR was probably at levels I never have hit on the bike either (I didn't wear it to know, though). BUT, I had a blast. I absolutely loved it. I have a lot to learn about racing bikes...but I enjoyed the strategery...the chess-playing...the ability to race the competition side-by-side. Now I just need to work on becoming a smarter biker so I can hold on and not get dropped in the last lap. DOH!



Here are some of the race in pictures (and video). Courtesy of spectator extraordinare - Greyt! Enjoy!


I really am excited!!


Pre-race with my adopted biking family, the Robinsons

Getting a little pre-race pep talk from Steve

Steve with his "I wish I was racing" face on...me with my "I hope I don't puke" face on...

video
Women's Beginner Race - GO!

Hanging tough with the girls...through Lap 5 (of 6).

video
The girls finishing without me. :(

video

But here I come!! Finishing strong!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday Night World Champs

So about a week ago I decided I wanted to try my hand at bike racing - you know, the kind that isn't preceded by a swim or followed by a run. In talking with my bike racer friend, he suggested I come out to this weekly ride to get a feel for riding in a pack, drafting, etc. This little weekly ride is the aforementioned "Tuesday Night World Champs". He assured me there'd be plenty of riders who would break up into packs so I wouldn't have to worry about hanging onto the fast guys. Because we BOTH knew that wouldn't happen.

So, I met Steve at his house last night around 5, then we headed to the rendez-vous point where he and his brother wait for the ride to roll around then jump on. As we are waiting, we see three riders screaming down the hill to our left. At that point, I see fear in Steve's eyes. Three riders?? That was not good. Then another pack came down the hill, but it was only about 10 riders. And that was it. Steve had warned me if it was a small group, it would be a fast group. And, of course, I was the only female. Wonderful. Can I just go home now? Please?

Well I didn't go home...I jumped on the back of the group and proceeded to head out of town with them. Once we got out of the city, the speed began to creep up. I kept looking at my bike computer - 24, 25, 26 mph. Holy hell. I held on to the back of the pack. (Although it turns out not close enough, according to Steve) Steve had said if I could make it up the Saylorville Dam hill and not get dropped, I could at least make it to Ankeny with the group. The hill was coming. I was getting nervous. 26, 27, 26 mph. I was working pretty darn hard to hang on. These guys looked like they were out walking the dog. ARGH!

Then there it was...the hill. Not a huge hill by any means, but a hill nonetheless. And the one where the women get dropped. I wanted so bad to hang up that hill. Those guys hit the bottom of the thing and they were up out of their saddles attacking it. Me, in my little triathlete mindset of spinning up a hill, reacted a bit too slowly and by the time I was out of the saddle attacking, they had opened up a gap. I was a goner. Absolutely NO chance of bridging that sucker. Damn it!

After the hill, I saw them up ahead and they were just putting more and more distance on me. Then we hit a spot on the route where there were several roads you could turn on...and since I couldn't see them anymore, I had no idea where they turned. And then I also realized I had no idea where the hell I was. I finally stopped at a little park to look at my notecard with directions on it. And then it started to rain. Are you freaking kidding me???? At that point I considered calling Greyt to come pick me up...but I wasn't even sure I could tell her where to pick me up. *sigh* So I did the only thing I really could do...HTFU, woman! I got back on the bike and headed north.

I finally found my way into Polk City and as I was heading in through town, I hear this guy yell behind me. It was Steve. YAY! I somehow managed to get back in front of the group and now had some people to ride with for awhile. That is, until the fast guys caught us a few miles later and Steve and the others dumped me again so they could get back on with the others. Those guys motored past me like I was standing still. Unreal.

Will I ever go back to TNWC? Um, maybe. After I've spent more time riding and have gotten stronger, perhaps. I didn't dislike the ride, and what happened was exactly what I thought would happen, so it's not like I was terribly disappointed or anything. And the point of me riding with them was not to hang on the entire ride anyway. It was to give me a feel for the pack riding dynamics and get some pointers from Steve for Saturday's race. I learned a lot in the 30 mins I hung with the group. And I'm excited to race the Cat 4 women on Saturday. I think I'll do ok....

Monday, August 24, 2009

Offseason Fun

I know some of you are still out there in the thick of triathlon season, especially you crazy people getting ready for an Ironman. I say that lovingly, of course. I, on the other hand, am done with my triathlon season. And loving every minute of it. Don't get me wrong, I had a good tri season. I had fun. But after Big Pig I was ready to move into the offseason and start really having some fun. I was ready for a change, ready to tackle some new challenges. And what better way to tackle new challenges than with a new toy??



CYCLOCROSS, BABY!!! Yep, decided to take the plunge this year and venture into the world of cyclocross. I needed something a little less "serious" than triathlon, and cyclocross has exactly what I am looking for. Off-roading, obstacle-jumping, mud-flinging, beer-drinking FUN. If you aren't familiar with cyclocross, here's a little taste of what it is...courtesy of the elite race at Jingle Cross in Iowa City last year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmpRM69TjNo
(copy and paste...I couldn't get the link to show up otherwise)
Looks like a BLAST doesn't it??? And, yes, that is snow. Hey, I need something to be excited about as the weather turns cold. I've already been doing a little training, getting used to riding in grass, mud, etc. But just like when you first start seriously riding a bike, you have to condition parts of your body to handle this kind of abuse....



Yes, I crashed my bike. And yes, this will be the first of many. Think I need a little work on my crash technique??? No worries, I am ok, I did not black out and had no signs of a concussion. That being said, I am going to insert a little PSA here. If your helmet feels a little loose and wobbles on your head AT ALL, go get a smaller helmet. Had mine fit correctly, I would not have this wonderful shiner. It slid just enough to expose my brow bone which absorbed the whiplash effect of the fall. And yes, I immediately went out and purchased a new helmet that FITS.

I'll be back with more updates on cyclocross...and the other fun things I have planned for this fall/winter. It's going to be one fun offseason!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dr. Jekyll Meet Mr. Hyde - Big Pig Race Report

Well, I knew Big Pig would be more of a challenge than Racine, but I didn't quite expect the day I had on Sunday. The two races couldn't have been more different - including the distances! Racine was a perfect day (weather, physical state, mental state), the swim was short, the bike was fast, and the run was good. Big Pig was a horrible day (weather, physical state, mental state), the swim was choppy and visibility was bad at times, the bike was BRUTAL, and the run turned into a battle of will to just finish. So rather than write a race report that rehashes the most difficult 6.5 hours in my triathlon life, I think I'll instead list out some of the things I learned from the day. Maybe they will help someone else down the road. In no particular order:

> No matter how hard of a day I have, finishing always feels better than quitting.
> Nutritition will make or break a race longer than an Olympic.
> Races in tough conditions are won mentally, not physically.
> I need more experience racing to understand how to fully adapt my strategy when conditions are less than ideal. I am still new at this.
> Swallowing Heed is almost as hard as swallowing pride.
> Bad races are only bad if I don't learn something from them.
> Knowing the course ahead of time helps me mentally get through the day, especially when the day is not going well. (I heart Newhall)
> Passing people going 8mph is still passing people.
> Running is always faster than walking. Really, it's true.
> Even if it is downpouring rain before the race, put on sunscreen. It just might end up sunny and blistering hot on the run.
> Stick to Raspberry Creme PowerGel. It tastes good both when going down and coming back up.
> Hold onto that cup just a little longer at the aid stations - it works really well to disguise the fact that I am puking.
> Taking the extra few seconds in T2 to body glide the armpits saves me from the very painful chafing I experienced at Racine.
> No matter how tough a day, having the support of friends and family at a race is just awesome. No matter what, they always think you did a great job and are proud of you. Thank you Laura, Rachelle, Becca, Steve, Jamey, Kelli, Jon, Diane, Margie, Cathy Y and everyone else out there cheering us on. It means more than you know.

And with that...my triathlon season draws to a close. I wish it had ended on a better note, but I learned a lot and will be a better athlete because of it. Big Pig is now behind me. It's time to focus on my new challenges for the fall - cyclocross racing, some road races, and sherpa duties for IM Coz!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Must. Stay. Focused.

Pigman is coming. T-minus 20 days. I need to stop thinking about cyclocross, a possible ride in the Black Hills in September, a marathon in October. FOCUS. I can think about those things in 20 days. Not before then. Right now it's all about riding hills, swimming without a wetsuit, and running in some heat/humidity. Time to smell the bacon.